Hyper-V v3 and vSphere 5 Capacities Compared

Is Microsoft catching up to virtualization leader VMware?

Julio Urquidi

Julio Urquidi is the Technical Editor at Tom’s IT Pro. Previously, he spent 17 years in healthcare-related enterprise IT. Julio’s most recent responsibilities centered around virtualization, but he is also well-versed in Linux, Windows and systems administration. Specializing in articles that help small companies with limited budgets leverage technology, he has been a contributing editor to Tom’s Hardware.

Hyper-V v3 virtualization among the many new Windows Server “8” features highlighted by Microsoft at its annual BUILD  developer conference this week.

It’s been a long time coming, but Windows Server ”8, which  briefly made an appearance at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles earlier this year, finally made its official debut this week.  Microsoft, at last, gave its next-generation flagship corporate operating system a moment to shine at this year’s BUILD conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Among the many new and updated features in the server OS is the latest version of Microsoft’s answer to virtualization, Hyper-V v3. 

Already in its third generation, Hyper-V’s grown from the proverbial runner up to other established hypervisors into a competitive, enterprise-class virtualization solution in its own right.  Version 3 introduces several new features that address storage, networking and performance; some features new to the virtualization world, others based on concepts already used by other platforms. 

Since Hyper-V has a growing fan-base amongst Windows administrators, I wanted to take a quick look at some Hyper-V v3 specifications provided by Microsoft. These numbers show just how far Microsoft has come along when compared to VMware. 

Here’s the short comparison:


Microsoft Hyper-V on Windows Server 8

Vmware vSphere 5

Physical Machine Hardware

160 logical CPUs, 2TB RAM

160 logical CPUs, 2TB RAM

Virtual Machine Hardware

32 virtual CPUs, 512GB RAM

32 virtual CPUs, 1TB RAM

Virtual Machines per Cluster



Physical Machines per Cluster



From the operating system’s perspective, a logical CPU is a recognized single processing unit running off a single or multicore physical processor.A virtual CPU is a virtualized representation of a physical CPU assigned to a virtual machine.  Lastly, hardware CPU and RAM specifications are written out per individual machine.  Physical machines refer to the host computers running hypervisor supporting operating systems. 

In the table above, we see that Microsoft has definitely increased Hyper-V’s ability to handle heavy VM loads by enabling admins to create larger, beefier VM hosts.  Hyper-V servers are now able to run head to head with machines configured for vSphere.  Cluster-wise, Microsoft claims that Hyper-V clusters can now be, practically, twice the size of vSphere clusters.

What’s interesting to note about both solutions is the ability to handle so called “monster VMs” seems well within both their capacities.  The idea of VMs getting as big as the physical machines sitting in a data center isn’t too far off, if not here already.   Yes, VMware seems to have the advantage of going “bigger” with a 1TB memory allocation for its VMs, but people in this industry won’t be surprised when the terabyte barrier has been breached by either virtualization solution.

There’s something to be said about the progress that Microsoft has made since Virtual Server 2005.   Always seen as behind vSphere, Hyper-V has taken a large step forward towards parity; giving IT professionals a wider selection of virtual solutions from which to choose for their networks.